Celebrate Banned Books Week the week of Sept. 30-Oct. 6.

An annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting the actual or attempted banning of books across the United States.

A local celebration of Banned Books Week 2012 includes a reading at T-Bocks Open Stage Night, a Banned Books Read-Out, street theatre by Upstart Crow Theatreworks, a Banned Books Week presentation by Shannon Horton and ongoing displays at Luther College, Decorah Public Library and select local retailers.

Banned Books Week 2012 begin with a short reading from "Fifty Shades of Grey" at T-Bocks Open Stage Night Sunday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. (hint: it's not what you might expect!). Readers also will speak briefly about the week's festivities.

The Luther College Book Shop (in Dahl Centennial Union) will host a Banned Books Read Out from 12-12:45 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2. Stop by to listen to Luther students, faculty and staff read selections from their favorite challenged books and discover titles to add to your own reading list. Co-sponsored by the Luther College Book Shop and Preus Library.

Upstart Crow Theatreworks will present "Banned Books Theatre," an original street theatre performance created by Kristen Underwood and a company of actors aged 13-17. Exploring themes of censorship, freedom of speech and other issues at the core of Banned Books Week, the 20-minute play will be performed free of charge at the Water Street Park (by the Oneota Co-op) Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 5 p.m., in the Decorah Public Library Thursday, Oct. 4, at 6 p.m., and during the Winneshiek Farmers Market on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.

According to the American Library Association, 7 out of 10 of the most challenged books in 2011 were published for teenagers. Shannon Horton, teacher librarian with the Decorah Public Schools, will present "What Should (or Shouldn't) Teens Be Reading? And Who Gets to Decide?" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4, at Decorah Public Library. While celebrating the freedom for teens to choose for themselves, she also will discuss some common concerns parents and teachers have about what teenagers read.

Visit Preus Library at Luther, the Decorah Public Library and retail stores in downtown Decorah to see a wide variety of ongoing displays depicting various Banned Books Week themes.

Banned Books Week partners are Decorah Community Schools, Decorah Public Library, Dragonfly Books, Luther College and Upstart Crow Theatreworks.

Call Decorah Public Library at 563-382-3717 for more information.